gold, gold, gold, crypto coins, blockchain and diamonds

What happened, what may happen

For those interested in the yellow metal, the World Gold Council recently released two documents on the 2017 gold market events and on the outlook for 2018. We all now how forecasts work (I have just read and quote “if you have to forecast, forecast a lot“). Even so, the more you read and know, the better (provided you have a critical knowledgeable mind). The documents are available for download at WGC’s website or from here:

In another issue, a World Gold Council report states that:

  • Cryptocurrencies are no substitute for gold. In a summary of their report, WGC says”Bitcoin’s parabolic price rise was the big story of 2017 – putting the spotlight on the cryptocurrency market. While gold’s performance was a solid 13%, it was a fraction of the 13-fold increase of bitcoin by the end of the year.
    Some commentators went as far as to claim cryptocurrencies could replace gold. Cryptocurrencies may become an established part of the financial system. But, in our view, gold is very different from cryptocurrencies, as gold:

    • is less volatile
    • has a more liquid market
    • trades in an established regulatory framework
    • has a well understood role in an investment portfolio
    • has little overlap with cryptocurrencies on many sources of demand and supply. 

    These characteristics underpin gold’s role as a mainstream financial asset that will likely continue to resonate in today’s digital world.

Diamonds as an investment is no longer news; it’s been around since the oil crises of the seventies. There has been some evolution recently, related to the blockchain technology and crypto coins:

  • De Beers, has announced that “it is progressing development of the first blockchain technology initiative to span the diamond value chain and provide a single, tamper-proof and permanent digital record for every diamond registered on the platform.” Read more here, at IDEX.
  • The Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) unveiled a new diamond-backed digital coin at IDWI (international Diamond Week in Israel). “The Israel Diamond Exchange and startup CARATS.IO have unveiled a new diamond-based crypto currency called CDC (Carats.io Diamond Currency), which they created together. The new coin was unveiled yesterday (Monday) at the International Diamond Week in Israel (IDWI – February 5 – 7, 2018). The trade in the crypto currency will be based on a new index, presented yesterday for the first time, which will reflect the daily trends in the diamond trade at the IDE. The index will be updated daily on big LED screens, which will be set at the Trading Hall. The index will reflect diamond prices set according to 14 parameters for comparing diamond prices”. To know more, just read here, at IDE’s website.
    According to Founder and CEO Avishai Shoushan, CARATS.IO’s extensive ecosystem of products will elevate the entire diamond industry. CARATS.IO is creating two separate cryptocurrencies, each backed by diamonds purchased on the Israel Diamond Exchange. One coin, called CUT (Carat Utility Token), will be used specifically in B2B transactions between eligible diamond traders. This currency will enable safe peer-to-peer transactions, altogether eliminating the need for financial intermediaries. The second currency, called CARAT, is meant for the wider market of financial institutions and digital currency investors. Both currencies will be backed by diamonds, with a market cap coverage of 25 percent, significantly reducing their speculative level of investment.“, in previous news.

Lithium recovery from lepidolite

Electric cars and their batteries are on the top of the public agenda; Elon Musk’s high-profile Tesla (his company and his just-launched-into-space car) and the need to decarbonise the world’s economy have turned the public’s eye into the issue of lithium batteries, normally the realm of engineers and mining investors (how many of those in the general public know how batteries work and what are they made of?) .

Portugal is endowed in lithium, present in several minerals in the country’s pegmatite districts. Lepidolite (a pink mica – just follow the link for a nice lepidolite picture in this blog) is one of the lithium-containing minerals, until now mostly used in Portugal in special ceramics. Foreign junior miners have recently fired up a quest for lithium in Portuguese lithium-mineralised pegmatite deposits, contributing to an even higher high-profile in Portuguese media – also check the Portuguese Government’s task force report on lithium.

A team of Portuguese researchers from Instituto Superior Técnico and LNEG has just published an article on the “Optimization of an innovative approach involving mechanical activation and acid digestion for the extraction of lithium from lepidolite.” The team is composed by Nathália Viecel, Carlos A. Nogueira, Manuel F. C. Pereira, Fernando O. Durão, Carlos Guimarães and Fernanda Margarido.

Abstract
The recovery of lithium from hard rock minerals has received increased attention given the high demand for this element. There- fore, this study optimized an innovative process, which does not require a high-temperature calcination step, for lithium extraction from lepidolite. Mechanical activation and acid digestion were suggested as crucial process parameters, and experimental design and response-surface methodology were applied to model and optimize the proposed lithium extraction process. The promoting effect of amorphization and the formation of lithium sulfate hydrate on lithium extraction yield were assessed. Several factor combinations led to extraction yields that exceeded 90%, indicating that the proposed process is an effective approach for lithium recovery.

International Journal of Minerals, Metallurgy and Materials
Volume 25, Number 1, January 2018
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12613-018-1541-7

(Yes, some on the team are old colleagues and friends of mine; nonetheless, congrats on the work done).

CINZEL STONEWORKS, new Portuguese design in stone

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CINZEL has just launched their maiden line of designed stone products in this year’s edition of MAISON&OBJET. In their own words, CINZEL is natural stone worked with passion into a young and bold design – A new brand intended for fun and beauty in furniture and decorative items.

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CINZEL – Calçada product line

CINZEL’s first collection is inspired in the Portuguese ‘Calçada’ – street pavement made of irregular hand cut stone cubes, traditionally in a mix of black and white (cobblestone). It will be focused on interiors furniture and decorative objects.

The collection is inspired by ‘Calçada’ contrasts, namely:

  • Fragmentation vs. Continuity
  • Unity vs. Duality
  • Regular vs. Irregular

The color selection is also aligned with the Portuguese ‘Calçada’. Three Portuguese marble types were selected:

  • Ruivina (black),
  • Estremoz Branco (White) and
  • Pele de Tigre (white with grey veining).

CECILE MESTELANJOANA CONCEIÇÃO, MARIANA ESTEVES SERRA are the designers behind this collection and INÊS MARTINS of Mármores Central Porto de Mós, the project’s soul, four women in the forefront of Portuguese stone.